The most famous “sex-change” case to go to court was that of England’s April Ashley. She had been born with male genitals but was psychologically female, she was a transsexual. She hated her penis and in 1960 underwent an operation to remove the visible signs of maleness; strictly speaking this was not a change of sex, since all she had accomplished was to remove the visible evidence of her genetic sex.

In the eyes of the law she was still a man and in fact had been brought up as George Jamieson. In February 1970 her marriage to Arthur Corbett was declared null on the ground that she was not really married. Mr. Justice Ormrod declared, “She is a biological male and has been so since birth.” She had male chromosomes and male gonads. Lawyers supported the court ruling but medical opinion was divided. Dr. Benjamin, author of “The Transsexual Phenomenon”, noted that “April Ashley has a vagina, so she is a woman.” For April Ashley herself the court ruling was a personal disaster.